Rolf Harris Rocks The Stylophone
By James Grahame
A very young Rolf Harris recorded this exuberant Stylophone demo record in the late sixties. It's amusing to hear him marvel over a virtually unplayable little instrument that sounds suspiciously like a tuned duck fart. Of course, kids love fart sounds, which ensured massive popularity throughout most of the known universe.
The Stylophone fad didn't last long after parents discovered the bloody thing didn't even have a volume control. Upon being woken by electrofarts several weekends in a row, fathers throughout Britain started a grassroots campaign to smash and hide the buzzy little boxes when their little darlings were otherwise occupied with matches and the neighbour's Persian kitty.
Luckily for us, a couple of dads gave their Stylos to the drug-addled musicians living in the squat across the street. These future pop stars managed to tease a few tuneful bleeps out of their newfound toys, ensuring an irrational cult following that lasted over three decades.
Things reached such a fever pitch that Ben Jarvis - son of one of the original inventors - released an updated version in 2007. He learned from his father's mistakes and incorporated a volume control, headphone jack and two additional tones which I affectionately call 'helium duck' and 'deep duck.'
I'm counting on one of you to incorporate the Stylophone into 2010's biggest hit single, ensuring that decades of future music lovers continue to covet this cheerful electrobleep machine.